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June 2010

I See Baby Birds Everywhere!

This morning I had coffee with the woodpeckers. After the weekend away at a Phenomenal Touch intensive training, I was eager to see them. As I suspected, the nest was empty, though when I sat down at the Peace Chamber, the parents were on the birch tree, pecking and sipping sap.

Soon Papa was joined by a fluffy gray baby, showing the early markings that affirm he is a yellow-bellied sapsucker. Oh, there are two babies in this picture!


Here they are sipping sap and practicing basic pecking skills.

Shortly, Papa flew away, and another bird fluttered in somewhat awkwardly. It was a third baby woodpecker! I enjoyed watching three three nestmates hope around the small birches and squabble over the best holes.


One flew over to a branch on a bigger birch to the left. It quietly practiced pecking on its branch. The fog was rolling in, and this woodpecker is fog colored, isn't she.


Suddenly Papa began calling from the ash tree to the west. The three birds in their perches froze. They stayed still for about 10 -15 minutes, while Papa sounded the alarm. I never saw the disturbance, but something put Papa on alert!

Through the binoculars, I can see that at least one of the babies is male. He already has a red blush coming in on his chin. I'll keep an eye on the others, to see if they develop colors in the next few days.

The three babies are contentedly sipping on sap, when another bird joins them from the treetops. It's a fourth baby woodpecker! Four babies! It lands briefly on the birch with the others, but soon flies to the branch in the bigger birch. Can you see them in this picture?


Here they are! (Click on the photo to see larger image.)

  4 baby woodpeckers circles

As always, your donations help maintain the land, build the Peace Chamber, and support our work. Join with us as a mission partner today. Come sing to the woodpeckers!

Bonus: I just uploaded a very short video of Papa feeding the baby. It's back lit and foggy, but charming nonetheless.

Sunday Morning--Baby Woodpeckers

Sunday morning I paid a visit to the Peace Chamber and the woodpecker family before heading off to Phenomenal Touch Level 3 intensive. A baby woodpecker was feeding on the birch tree!


The parents were still gathering food and flying to the nest in the popple tree. Another baby was still inside, poking its head and looking around.


The parents would land on the nearby slender ash tree and call for the baby to come out. In 20 minutes I saw them feed it once. They were clearly enticing it to fly out of the nest. It was gathering its courage for the big leap... alas, I had to leave for class, and missed the launch. Two babies! well done, Ma and Pa Yellow-bellied sapsucker!

Here are more family photos of the parents and the precocious fledgling.



The baby flew to this older birch tree. See how cleverly it blends with the markings on the birch bark.


As soon as these youngsters are fully fledged and ready to be on their own, we'll begin the foundation work for the Peace Chamber. Meanwhile, we are raising money, building a model, and working on the pines that will go into the structure. Donations of any amount are welcome, and it's easy to contribute using the paypal button on the sidebar.

Please join us for chanting, building the Peace Chamber, and living the vision. Become a Mission Partner! Email me about ways you can participate where you are. Thank you!

Live from the Peace Chamber

I saw the first baby woodpecker this morning. One, or more, curious beak and eye came to the hole. It did not emerge from the shadows, but with my binoculars, I could see it. I'll bet I'll see more of them this weekend. It's been three weeks since hatching.

The parents behavior around the nest has been different the past couple of days. Tuesday morning, Papa was inside the nest, and along comes a gray squirrel investigating. It came round to the nest hole, and put its nose in. Whoops! Scuse me, Papa Woodpecker! and scampered around back of the tree. I had seen pursuit by the  adult woodpeckers before, but not this time. When Papa was ready to leave the nest, he put his red-capped head out and rotated it in all directions for a good minute before flying out. He did that the next several trips, going all the way in the nest, and looking carefully before emerging. I wondered if there had been an invasion incidenct earlier. I'll never know.

Soon his nest behavior settled back to the usual routine, with a new twist. The parents rarely go all the way in the nest. They perch on the tree and duck their heads in to offer food. This morning, I noticed them hanging out beside the nest hole for a few beats. They are preparing the babies to come out soon.

Also on Tuesday, there was a red  squirrel scramble. The scruffy fella who'd had part of his tail bitten off, wanted to check out the birch tree. No Way! The papa chased him through the oak tree.


In the deep woods, I scouted out the ground nest I found. We'd had rainstorms and I wanted to know how it was doing. I took the binoculars so I could see without getting close and disturbing the bird. I saw her, sitting on the nest. What is that bird?

Note: I have pictures, but the nest is invisible! I now know that the bird is an ovenbird, so named because of the side-entry domed nest, which looks like a kiva oven. I'll check out the nest again soon, and report back.

Solstice Chanting on Sunday evening was beautiful and powerful. It is so good to sing. I felt the connection with all other peace chambers. We sang for the Gulf and its it residents of all species. We sang to understand who we are that our gift of genius pulled the oil out of the earth and created so many things that are harmful. It's a mystery, our genius at death. What did we forget?

The rocks and water on this land picked up the vibration and carried it far, to the coast seven miles away and through the waters. Please join us for chanting, building the Peace Chamber, and living the vision. Become a Mission Partner! Email me about ways you can participate where you are.

More Birds Stories at the Peace Chamber

The more I look the more I see, and the more open to amazing--and tragic--experiences on the land.

Yesterday morning, I was going out to the Chamber site for my morning meditation. Birds were making a raucous racket in the old apple tree over the path. MANY birds. I looked up to see who they were. I stepped on a rock and kept walking. I turned back to see more, and there was a baby robin on the ground... on the path... oh no! it wasn’t a rock! I had stepped on the baby bird. It was still alive, but died moment later, in my hands. All the robins from the neighborhood had come to this spot, because a fledgling was down and Chessie the cat was prowling. I placed the dead bird in her tree, and brought the cat with me to the Peace Chamber. The Robins instantly flew off, and I heard one Cheer-eee-Oh song in the apple tree from then on. Wow! (Later I buried the baby under one of the altars at the sweat lodge.)

It was a day of birds on the ground. Walking in the woods in the afternoon, I was startled by a bird shooting throught the ferns. I never saw the bird, yet it felt like bird, a smallish bird, not grouse or woodcock. Later I came upon a nest on the ground with four brown speckled eggs. I wondered??? Had it blown from a tree?  After the rains Thursday, I went back out to see how the nest fared,  I couldn’t find it--until the bird shot out of it again. This time, I followed the trajectory back to the nest, sheltered by a clump of green grass. OK, this is an active protected nest. I’ll stay away, now that I know. I have never seen such a bird nest on the ground, in the woods. Do you know what kind of bird this is?

Ground nest
Is this a quail nest?

This day of killing the robin with my clomping, unaware feet, and disturbing this bird family on the ground, I felt like an idiot, an interloper in a world whose language and customs I know nothing about.

Yet, the blessings abound. This morning, I sat watching, listening, praying and writing. Very quiet, except for the drama of watching the male woodpecker chase a chipmunk through the trees. After that settled, two cedar waxwings came to pluck ripening blueberries at my feet! So beautiful! So trusting. Now I know why I don’t have too many to pick under the trees. They are hanging out near the honeysuckle and the hawthorne, waiting for the color red!

Needless to say, there is no hurry to start the commotion of digging and building. I can’t disturb these families who are working so hard to raise their young.

The work of log peeling and fundraising and singing continues! Your donations are needed and welcome.  When the time is right, we will move quickly!

Stay in touch!

Woodpecker Stories from Hope Peace Chamber

Male woodpecker sun

It has been almost 2 weeks since I first noticed the buzz around the Peace Chamber. In those weeks, I have had so many bird experiences of all kinds. It’s been a profound time of intimacy with the wild things, and the story continues.

The woodpeckers are yellow-bellied sapsuckers, I discovered. They are a keystone species for woodlands, creating larders for themselves and for hummingbirds, insects and other birds to feed on. While they create opportunity for other animals to feed, they don’t like to share. I’ve see the male and female chase away the hummers and the downy woodpeckers. The insects they will eat if they don’t scatter in time!

Early one morning as the sun hit the treetops, the male flew through the tops of the trees, not alighting or calling, or feeding. I surmise it is a territorial display to anyone else who might like this patch of woods.

As the weeks progress, the parents are working their beaks off! I swear they are growing thinner. They are flying farther and gathering food from more trees as the babies grow. The first day they took turns in the nest, each beakful of bugs signaling a changing of the guard. The following week, they both flew abroad, gathering food and sap, seeming to stay away from the nest for longer periods. Now the babies are so demanding they are in and out of the hole constantly!

Yesterday in the calm of day’s end, I heard the babies! Each time a parent entered the nest hole, I could hear their racket of competitive peeps. I watch eagerly for the first sighting. What will that be like?

Please come and see us. Bring some food, and some gloves: we can start peeling the logs, and we can chant a little and visit with the birds at the Chamber.

God Talking (through the birds)

My friend Stevan is making a model of the Peace Chamber structure. Thank you Stevan!

Meanwhile, the yellow-bellied sapsuckers have been joined by a flicker, more hummingbirds, and an amazing golden-orange and black bird. The abundance is magnified by the numbers of baby bird beaks that need feeding!

Remember, our abundance is magnified by our desire!

So desire more... it's God talking to you.

Here's front and back flicker images taken with a 12 to 1 zoom on my little Canon.

Flicker front

Flicker back

and here is the downy woodpecker, just before the yellow-bellies sapsucker male ran it off.


Afternoon action at the Peace Chamber

I brought my computer out to the Peace Chamber to record a short video. Distracted by the thrum of hummingbird wings and the soft peck peck of a wood pecker I turned my chair around.

Here's a play by play, followed by pictures.

The Woodpecker has been pecking a series of holes in a pair of birch saplings. It come to peck at them, then flies over to the oak behind me and pecks there. The hummingbird perches on a branch of the birch tree, waiting. When the Woodpecker leaves, he goes to the fresh holes to sip some sap. Then he goes and the bees come, along with flies and ants. Then butterflies arrive, but not till the sun comes out. Everyone feasts off the woodpeckers labors, and I believe that the woodpecker returns to enjoy a few ants and bugs that have come to taste the nectar.

I see the woodpecker fly to a large popple tree a few yards away. It pecks at a dark spot, which is a hole, and its mate emerges to fly the food routine, and he goes in to feed the nestlings. Later I hear that they are calling to one another softly.

This routine is repeated over a dozen times in an hour. It makes me think of how the building of the peace chamber may disrupt this family, and all its entwined dependants. I will certainly make sure the birches are not cut. The excavation will only take a few hours, then all will be quiet again. The half dead oak I've been planning to cut for firewood before it becomes too punky to burn. Now I'll be sure to wait until this family of woodpeckers is raised. I'll take care of the Popple with the nest too.

An afternoon of peace watching my relations in the forest, and seeing how they are all related to one another.

Here are some pictures.


Papa Woodpecker


Fine Fella


Flying home.


Changing guard.


Male and female


Hummingbird checks out the holes to the right of the tree.


Feeding activity steps up later in the day.